You care about your pet and you care about the environment and you probably want to make informed decisions when it comes to involving your furry family member and your mission to tread a little more lightly on the planet. But how do you know if you are providing for your pet in a way that will keep the earth as resource-rich as it was before you brought fluffy or fido home? Well, look no further than these Eco Friendly Pet Products That Are Paw-Fect For The Planet!
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Why should we consider eco friendly pet products?
As with anything we buy, whether it be for us or our pets, knowing what we really need, where to shop, and how to avoid unnecessary purchases helps keep the planet and our pocketbooks in check. We spend about 103 billion dollars on our pets and there are no signs of that slowing down. Having the proper equipment for your pet is key, but to tread more lightly, consider these things before making and purchase:
- Don't buy things you don't NEED
- Avoid toys with toxins, opt for eco friendly dog toys instead
- Look for products that are energy-efficient and water-conserving
- Buy products that are reusable, recycled or recyclable
Pets need basic things like food and water bowls, crates, grooming tools, exercise equipment (like collars/leashes), toys, waste disposal solutions and cleaning supplies for stains and odours. I am a huge proponent of secondhand goods for most of the equipment that we need for our pets. Like humans, our four-legged friends (through no fault of their own) create a lot of waste. One study notes that America’s pets produce about 5.1 million tons of feces in a year! And that's just poop—now think of all the poop bags and toys, etc. that also end up in landfills! Eeeek, it's a lot.
Sustainable pet ownership means finding a balance between what your pet actually needs, but at the same time making sure those needs don't have a massive carbon paw-print.
Eco Friendly Pet Products: Bowls
When choosing eco friendly pet bowls, make sure they are dishwasher safe and BPA-free. I'd prefer you not use any plastic at all. Instead, stainless steel (available at most pet shops) and stoneware are your best bet for eco-friendly pet bowls. You can also opt for glass, which is better with smaller dogs and cats. Bamboo is a good option, too. My top pick would be stainless steel; most of the stainless steel in Canada is recycled.
Cats prefer bowls that are shallow and broad, to accommodate their whiskers. I've had questions regarding ceramic. Some ceramic products can contain led-glazes, so make sure you ask the manufacturer how and what was used to glaze. Plastic food bowls are made using nonrenewable resources, and they do not biodegrade. Also, look out for rubber because it can irritate some cats and dogs.
You can also opt for a little design quality in your home by choosing bamboo dog bowl stands.
Eco Friendly Pet Products: Dog Collars and Leashes
Eco friendly collars and leashes should last for many years. Bamboo dog collars are really durable and are available at most pet stores. Same with hemp. Rawganique offers an excellent selection too. You know they are one of my favourite sustainable businesses. Their line of hemp pet collars and leashes is completely safe! They use 100% organically grown European hemp, with metal connectors. They're adjustable too, which makes them a great option because you don't have to keep buying new ones as your pet grows.
Wiggly Woos Pets also carry gorgeous organic rope collars and leashes, and they even have a harness for your cat.
A few other things to consider: you can choose leather, just make sure it's ethically sourced. There is also the option of leashes and collars made from artificial fibers. The argument here is they last much longer, but ultimately at some point, they will end up in the garbage. They're plastic and won't biodegrade, so I tend to shy away from these. They can also be pretty hard on your hands.
Eco Friendly Dog Grooming
You want to pick the right suds for Spud. Use natural grooming products that are formulated for your pet's skin, not yours. Dog and cats lick a lot and we don't want them slurping up a ton of chemicals when they give themselves a lick.
My top pick for bath time is Nature's Aid shampoo bars. They are packed full of beneficial ingredients like oatmeal to nourish the skin, aloe vera to condition the fur, and shea butter to smooth and add shine. These eco friendly dog shampoo bars are also zero waste—no plastic packaging here! Each bar is equivalent to about 2 typical bottles of shampoo or conditioner.
These natural pet shampoo bars are hypo-allergenic, tear-free, and made in a carbon-neutral facility. And you won’t find any artificial fragrances, colours, SLS, palm oils or parabens in them either. You can even choose a conditioner bar if your pet's fur needs a little extra TLC!
Nature's Aid also carries one of my favourite shampoo bars for humans. The bars come in 6 delectable scents (including an unscented version).
Brushing and combing often will help your pet. You will need a good grooming brush, and bamboo dog brushes are ideal, like this one from EarthHero. Please don't buy plastic—they break easily and end up in the garbage (we have enough plastic in the environment as it is!) You can find huge selections of bamboo brushes on Etsy; just keep in mind that just like a toothbrush, the bristles are made from synthetic materials, so they will need to be removed from the brush before you compost it.
Eco Friendly Dog Toys
I wrote a whole article on the best eco friendly dog toys. Luckily today we have lots of great options to choose from. Sustainable dog toys made from recycled materials can be really good and will take a beating from a committed chewer. Look for brands that are BPA-free.
Cheap plastic toys mean poor raw materials, sub-par manufacturing quality, and lax regulations about processes and raw material safety.
West Paw Design makes dog and cat products in the USA, and all of their raw materials are locally sourced. By buying locally, you are helping to lower your pet's carbon paw-print. Ware of The Dog makes the most adorable hand crochet dog toys.
SmartyKat and Pooch Planet toys, kitty scratch posts, and recycled dog beds are widely available in most big pet stores. WorldWise is a good place to start.
Kong is another awesome brand; their rubber toy line is a very good investment, and you can almost certainly find this brand at a pet shop near you. They've also got lots of eco friendly cat toys to choose from. Puurfect Play makes eco friendly dog chew toys that are ideal for your conscious canine. Each toy is handcrafted in their home-based workshop or in our local community member’s homes. Find a range of eco friendly cat toys here too.
Like most manufacturers, the pet world is constantly making new and innovative eco friendly cat and dog toys, so always check with your local pet shop first.
Eco Friendly Cat Litter
A lot of cat litter brands use additives (synthetic fragrances) to hide the smell. These additives give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, contribute to indoor air pollution and can also make your cat sick. Cats actually prefer unscented litters. And since cats spend most of their days grooming, it's likely they will be ingesting these harmful chemicals. With their little noses are right in the litter, those VOCs can enter your cat's nose and irritate their respiratory system. All of this can lead to long-term health conditions.
The CatGenie is an option too. It's a self-flushing, self-washing cat box and is the creme de al creme in the cat world. It's pricey though.
Litter made from recycled newspaper is biodegradable, flushable and mostly dust-free. In recent years, new plant-based litters have become popular like corn, wheat, kenaf and oat hulls. Some brands to consider are:
- Trackless Litter, which is made from silica pearls. This lasts longer and has 70% less landfill contribution than clay litters
- Swheat Scoop Natural is a wheat-based clumping litter. They say you can flush it, but I would not because there are health concerns for humans and waterways
- The World's Best Cat Litter is made from corn, it's sustainably made with no chemicals added,
- Green Tea Fresh Cat litter is made from, you guessed it, green tea!
- Yesterday's News is made from recycled newspapers
Cats are very finicky and if they don't like their litter, you will have major issues. It's actually the number one reason people give up their cat. To prevent this from happening, you have to ensure your cat is comfortable and you have to clean the litter box once a day. Yep, once a day.
If you find that your cat is very stressed and going outside of the litter box, you might need to reconsider the litter that you are using. You also want to check with your vet to make sure there are no underlying issues. For cats that are super stressed out, CBD oil can be helpful.
RE Bbotanicals is pet-friendly CBD that I have used, with the supervision of my vet. Studies have shown that CBD can have a positive impact on your cat's health and can improve mood-related disorders like stress. My cat seems to really like it so far!
RE Botanicals Hemp Tincture for Pets is U.S. sun-grown, USDA-certified organic hemp extracts that are derived from organic hemp flowers, which contain high amounts of naturally occurring phytocannabinoids. This CBD is also made with organic coconut MCT oil and is certified glyphosate-reside-free. This bottle comes in a smaller dosage so that you can adjust it (with your vet) according to your pet's size and need.
RE Botanicals also believes in giving back to the planet that gives to us, so 1% of their sales are donated to farmers and non-profits who are improving the health of the soil through regenerative farming practices. PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR VET BEFORE GIVING ANYTHING LIKE THIS TO YOUR PET.
They also carry tinctures, body oils, and capsules for humans, too!
Eco Friendly Dog Poop bags
Let's face it: scooping poo is not fun! Every time my hubby and I go for a hike, we come across at least 10 plastic bags filled with dog sh*t along the path. I seriously cannot understand why someone would be that lazy and disrespectful to nature. Those poop bags are one of my biggest pet peeves. If you want to be a sustainable dog owner, you have to pick up your dog's poo and place it in the garbage. Woof! That's a lot of plastic bags.
Before you make any decision on the type of bag, you want to use take a look at my guide on Environmentally Friendly Trash Bags: Biodegradable Vs. Compostable Trash Bags, it's a comprehensive guide on what you need to know about each one.
Here are three good choices for you:
- Biobag Doggie Waste Bag's are biodegradable and compostable. These are the most widely used bags for dog poop and to line a kitty litter tray.
- With Skooperbox, you get the bag and the scoop, which are both made with biodegradable and recyclable materials.
- Dispoz-a-scoop, 997 biodegradable, is a cardboard scoop and bag that allows you to scoop, seal and toss it.
- You can also use old newspapers to scoop. Double it up to avoid getting it on your hands.
Eco Friendly Dog & Cat Beds
With sustainable dog beds, you (and your pet) can sleep easier knowing that the bed is natural and not made with plastic and other nasty synthetic materials. Cheap dog beds not only fall apart, but they also come with poor working conditions for the people who make them and they end up in landfills at the end of their lives. Remember, you can't recycle textiles in Canada.
Muttropolis has your pet's sleep in mind with their massive selection of pet beds, pillows, orthopedic beds and even outdoor beds. So your pet can hang with you at the cottage! LOL! Each bed is stuffed with their hypoallergenic Sustainafill™ eco-friendly filling.
West Paw Design is a certified B-corp that makes beds with recycled plastic bottles. Also, check out P.L.A.Y and Harry Barker. I'm a huge fan of hemp because it's biodegradable, hypoallergenic, naturally resists mildew and mold and is super durable. You can find the best hemp dog beds and cat beds at Hemp Organic Life on Etsy.
Now when it comes to eco friendly cat beds, you can look at some of the recommendations I have already made or you can consider a few other things. First off, if you have a cat, you know they love to sleep in dark, cozy places so I'm sure your feline will love this organic wool Nap Cocoon. Cats also love to sleep up high so take a look at this too sustainable bamboo cat perch, sure to be a hit.
Eco Friendly Pet Treats
What you feed your pooch or feline matters. I'll talk more about this in a separate post. If you have a pet, you know they love treats. I know mine do. Buddy is obsessed with them and he knows the word. I have to spell it now, I can't say it out loud!
A good eco friendly dog treat should have no preservatives, chemicals, dyes, or artificial flavours. Unfortunately, many of them do, so read the labels closely. Cookie Nuggets is all about natural and organic dog treats for pets. I mean they look so good I might even try one! They're made with three simple ingredients: organic oat flour, organic eggs, and organic all-natural peanut butter.
It's hard to find good treats that don't come in plastic bags. Cookie Nuggets are paper but have a plastic window which you need to remove before you toss the bag into the recycling bin.
Also, look for dog cookies at your local pet shop. Many of them carry homemade eco dog treats. You can also make them yourself. Wild-sourced antlers are a healthy treat for your dog. And I also really love Honest Kitchen, which makes human-grade dehydrated chicken treats.
Eco friendly cat treats are hard to find. If you are in the USA, I recommend Smalls. After extensive research for my own cat, this one was at the top of the list. My cat Buddy also loves the PureBites Freeze Dried Chicken Breast Cat Treats, but they do come in a plastic pouch. We do grow our own organic catnip and Buddy freaking loves that too!
A large part of greening our pet's food involves the choices we make when we feed them. Buying cheap pet food to save money is not doing poor fluffy or fido any good. With the hundreds of choices currently available, choosing the right pet food can feel like an overwhelming task. The first thing is to talk to your vet. Not all animals are created equal, and some have specific dietary needs. Your vet can help steer you in the right direction if this is the case.
Sustainable Pet Carriers
Finding eco friendly pet crates and carriers proved to be quite challenging. This dog website has a list of some made from recycled plastics and wood, but it was super hard to find any information on how they are actually manufactured.
Honestly, the best crates and carriers are secondhand ones. You can find these at antique markets, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, and even some pets shops that offer cheaper secondhand options. Just make sure all the parts are there and it's in good working condition. You can always ask your vet, sometimes people do leave crates behind. Once you get it home, clean and disinfect it and you are good to go.
Dogs use crates for sleep and daytime confinement and for travel, so make sure you have one that fits your dog and can be used for multiple purposes. Size matters. When you buy a puppy, you might want to rent a crate and then invest when they are fully grown.
You might not be a fan of secondhand but when you take into account that the raw materials come from mining and the petrochemical industry, it just makes more sense to choose used.
Eco Friendly Cleaning Products For Pets
Eco friendly pet cleaners should be free from harmful chemicals. Conventional cleaners can give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are really bad for indoor air pollution and can be super toxic to your pets. The best eco friendly pet cleaning products are those that are natural and that produce as little waste as possible. For washing pet beds, zero waste laundry detergents are your best bet.
Now, cleaning up after your pet is a whole other ball game. If your home is carpet-free it's much easier. You can get the job done with water and vinegar. Or any of the cleaners available in the brand directory will work for dogs. Aspen Clean and Attitude Living (use CANDICE10 at checkout) are both great choices.
For cats, if they pee out of the litter box, you need the right cleaner for the job. My cat Roxy (RIP) did this all the time—we had a really hard time with her for years. We tried everything and finally landed on Biokleen. Plant-based cleaners are great for dog messes and cat vomit but with cat pee and bigger stains, you need a cleaner that has specific enzymes in it.
Biokleen is my top pick. Their Bac-Out Pet Pet Stain & Odour remover is a blend of live enzyme-producing cultures, lavender and citrus extracts and plant-based surfactants to remove the toughest stains and odours and their return. I recommend buying the large bulk option to reduce plastic packaging in your home.
Other things to consider when buying eco friendly pet products
All the items that I featured on this list of eco friendly pet products I have either used or come highly recommended from trusted colleagues in the pet industry. (I used to host a pet TV show!)
For textiles, I went with sustainable fabrics like hemp and bamboo, both of which grow in abundance and require very little water and chemicals. When grown sustainably, they make up some of the best eco materials on the market today. Both are also fully compostable and can be made into everything from dog beds to leashes.
For food and cleaners, I chose the ones that have really good ingredients and take sustainability into account in all facets of their business.
Start your search for pet-friendly products in your local community. You will not only meet other pet owners, but you will be supporting your local economy. If the items are not available locally then you can shop online—I've given you a ton of options.
Most of the companies featured in this article originated with green products as a central focus of their business and many of them are owned by eco-conscious pet owners.
The bottom line is: pets are part of the family and 100% rely on us to make thoughtful decisions about the food we feed them and the toys they play with. No matter if you have a cat or dog, I hope you found this article helpful.
If you are looking for more ideas for your pet, make sure to have a quick look at the brand directory.
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